A second Republican candidate is joining the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012.
Joe Arwood, a city council member in St. Bonifacius, officially launched his candidacy Monday. With more than 14 months before the election, GOP leaders are predicting more candidates will step forward to challenge the popular and well-financed incumbent.
Arwood readily admits that he's a political unknown outside of St. Bonifacius. But the 38-year-old, first-term city council member said other unknown candidates have found success in Minnesota before. His examples include Paul Wellstone, Jesse Ventura and Chip Cravaack.
Arwood said he thinks he has a message that will resonate with voters.
"We're taking a message to the people that is about their day-to-day lives, and how to have an impact on those day-to-day lives by shrinking the size of government and bringing that control back to the states and making the politicians more accountable to the people that they serve," he said.
Arwood said more common people like him should be involved in politics, and he's at least partially in sync with the Tea Party when it comes to reducing the size and reach of the federal government. He said his campaign will emphasize the constitution and founding principles. He also wants to help create jobs by lowering taxes and reducing regulations for businesses.
Arwood has little to say about the incumbent he hopes to defeat in 2012.
"Klobuchar didn't really play a factor in whether I ran or whether I didn't run," he said. "What I would say is that I'm running against the system in Washington ... I'm going to be campaigning on principles."
Arwood said he will seek GOP backing and will abide by the party endorsement. He joins former state Rep. Dan Severson of Sauk Rapids, who announced his candidacy back in May. Severson ran an unsuccessful statewide campaign for Secretary of State in 2010. Campaign finance reports last month showed Severson had raised just $3,700, while Klobuchar had more than $3.3 million in the bank.
Better known Republicans, including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, have said they will not join the race. Still, Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton said he views Klobuchar as beatable, and expects more GOP challengers to jump in. Sutton said he's never met Joe Arwood, and he downplays the importance of name recognition.
"If you become the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate you'll have 100 percent name recognition by Election Day," he said. "I'm not concerned about that."
Democrats have a different view of the GOP field. Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said the lack of Republican challengers is a testament to Klobuchar's widespread popularity. Martin is optimistic about Klobuchar's prospects next fall, but he says no one will take anything for granted, no matter who the Republican challenger might be.
"Anyone who knows Amy Klobuchar knows that she's one of the one of the hardest working politicians out there," Martin said.
Klobuchar's campaign spokesman, Justin Buoen, did not specifically comment on Arwood. Instead, he issued a written statement highlighting the senator's work on job creation, deficit reduction and other issues.